In the interview, he discusses his audience’s initial reactions, as well as what he feels this album cycle’s lasting legacy will be. Here are five unique takeaways from the honest new interview.
david byrne american utopia broadway promo code – Please Don’t (Feat. Santigold)
From his days with art-rock pioneers Talking Heads and through his solo career, David Byrne has had a keener-than-most sense of how to turn pop music into the catalyst for a spectacle — Talking Heads’ videos provided some of early MTV’s most lasting images, the band’s concert film Stop Making Sense” redefined the idea of a live album, and he’s presented his music accompanied by color guards and choirs. One constant of David Byrne ‘s long and prolific career is his ability to grow a seemingly simple idea into something brilliant, whether it’s the melody of Road to Nowhere” or the concept of the Stop Making Sense” tour some 36 years ago, where the premise of bringing out nine musicians, one at a time per song, grew into one of the most iconic tours in modern music history. What is perhaps most remarkable is his ability to keep coming up new ideas that seem obvious, but obviously aren’t.
During the scripting, Byrne made several visits to North Texas, accompanying Tobolowsky and Henley to the Longhorn Ballroom, Highland Park Cafeteria and Big Town Mall in Mesquite, the latter of which would appear in the film. He also responded to new structures in town. “David was fascinated with those phony reflective gold buildings the mirrored Campbell Centre office towers near NorthPark,” Tobolowsky remembers, noting that the director imagined a film “with those Logan’s Run buildings and cattle grazing in front of them. He found humor in the juxtaposition.” Although that image appears nowhere in True Stories, the film would otherwise very much support that vision, with the camera panning laterally through new subdivisions giving way to empty, garbage-strewn empty lots, all before an unblinking, eternally blue sky.
The segue from “Government” into Byrne’s 2002 collaboration with Brit house duo X-Press 2, “Lazy,” keeps cranking up the energy in a perfectly modulated set list. But the loudly appreciative response of hardcore fans to the older material conveys a special contagious rapture, notably as the jaunty opening bars of “This Must Be the Place” act like a mass mood elevator, followed by the explosively visceral tribal rhythms of “I Zimbra.” Dadaist poet Hugo Ball’s work served as the lyrics for that song, and Byrne’s droll detour into the Dada movement — an absurdist protest response to the escalating Nazi threat and the rise of fascism — again ties into the show’s seamless political messaging.
Juice B Crypts occasionally threatens to collapse beneath the weight of its overstuffed songs. But even when it’s too maximalist for its own good, Battles’s music is still compelling. That’s thanks in large part to Stainer’s mind-meltingly good drum work, which culls from an impressive array of influences, from breakneck-style jazz playing in the vein of Buddy Rich to polyrhythmic adventurism like that of Chris Frantz to post-punk thudding reminiscent of Stephen Morris. He remains Battles’s stabilizing force.
I’m not the first person to note similarities between Fred Rogers — the cardigan-wearing children’s television host (and the subject of a new Tom Hanks movie ) — and Byrne, the New Wave musician who writhed into the spotlight performing Psycho Killer” in the 1970s. But as I watched American Utopia,” the comparison felt especially apt.
The resulting Lead Us Not Into Temptation is a musical document that need not be tied to the film. The graceful details and elegant forms stand alone. The moods are so well articulated and movements so clear that it is an engulfing listen.
In 1981, Byrne partnered with choreographer Twyla Tharp , scoring music he wrote that appeared on his album The Catherine Wheel for a ballet with the same name, prominently featuring unusual rhythms and lyrics. Productions of The Catherine Wheel appeared on Broadway that same year. In Spite of Wishing and Wanting is a soundscape David Byrne produced for the Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus ‘s dance company Ultima Vez.
David Byrne is a lot more than just the frontman for Talking Heads. He’s also well-regarded as a music producer, curator, visual artist, biking activist and more. The Talking Heads icon paid tribute to Nia Wilson at last week’s Oakland concert.
David Byrne (born May 14, 1952) is a Scottish – American musician and artist perhaps best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the new wave band Talking Heads , which was active between 1974 and 1991. Since then, Byrne has released his own solo projects on record, and worked in a variety of media, including film , photography , opera , and Internet -based projects. He has received Grammy , Oscar , and Golden Globe awards for his achievements.
I remember when I moved here, I could work a part time job as a theater usher, which meant I was often not working a full day. I didn’t make a lot of money but it was enough to pay my share of the rent, with other band members as roommates. It left us enough time to rehearse. Sometimes we could even play gigs. It’s pretty hard to survive in New York on a part time job these days. People have got to negotiate that and figure it out. So far, some people are figuring it out.
Ode to Joy can sometimes feel like a Tweedy solo effort. Cline is oddly penned in here; his guitar playing is unmistakable, but he never gets a chance to truly shine. Cline’s guitar parts on Hold Me Anyway” and We Were Lucky” are crunchy and powerful, with the energy of a coiled snake, but neither is as memorable as his solos on Impossible Germany” or Hell Is Chrome.” As a result, the album is a bit monochromatic, lacking the classic guitar heroism that has, in the past, allowed Wilco to buck the dad-rock label. Twelve years on from Sky Blue Sky , the band would benefit from opening up their sound again—and getting a little bit weird.
The song list is old and new, from Kurt Schwitters’ nearly century-old Primeval Sonata” with its Dadaesque lyrics to a Janelle Monáe protest song that he asked permission to cover after hearing the hip-hop and R&B chanteuse perform it at the Women’s March. Yes, he includes plenty of Talking Heads hits to get fans on their feet.
Juice B Crypts biggest drawback is that, with so much going on, some of these songs get lost in the album’s frenetic whiplash pacing. A Loop So Nice…” is a fleeting piece of crystalline glitch-pop that suffers from its placement alongside its superior companion piece, They Played It Twice,” which features a vocal part from Xenia Rubinos that attains almost religious levels of ecstasy. Last Supper on Shasta, Pt. 1” gets some mileage from Merrill Garbus’s typically wild vocals, but Pt. 2” buries her singing under a mountain of noise.
Byrne surrounds himself with 11 accomplished musicians, six on percussion, and all dressed in identical gray suits and barefoot. And together they move about a stage surrounded on three sides by curtains of metal chains, creating a series of stage tableaux. Parson’s choreography is a crafty mix of low-impact rhythmic movement and marching band, an effect amplified by the fact that the musicians all tote their own instruments as they move about the stage.
I’m planning to go soon, but one question I have is, does the audience stand up? It’s a broadway show, so that would make sense, but it’s also a concert. No way I can go to a David Byrne show and not dance.
American public radio station Studio 360 made a short audio documentary on the making of Remain in Light, the album whci transfermed the band from a new wave group into a funky orchestra. The documentary contains interviews with Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and the author of the book ‘Song and Circumstance’, Sytze Steenstra. The podcast will be part of the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congres.
The musicianship of American Utopia” is sensational. The wireless portability of the string and percussion instruments aids in the impression of the music pouring out of the bodies of these performers, and Parson’s choreography gives urgent three-dimensionality to the lines on Byrne’s pages. Speaking of lines: When this gaggle of musicians moves, in circles and in other formations, you’ll feel you’re in the company of the grooviest marching band, ever.
In fact, as part of this album’s rollout, Byrne made it his personal quest to highlight positive things that are happening organically across the world. In a talk series called Reasons To Be Cheerful , the musician showcased small movements in various cultures that focus on climate, transportation, economics, and more. It definitely started off as me trying to convince myself that things aren’t all going to hell,” he says. But Byrne is clear that he’s not actively trying to change anyone’s mind, but simply wants to provide a platform for ideas that are actually working. In the lecture I attended in January at the New School in New York, a member of the crowd asked if he would run for mayor—to which Byrne responded with a laugh.
After David’s birth in Scotland in 1952, the Byrne family moved to Canada when he was 2. A few years later, they moved to Maryland, where he would spend the rest of his childhood. After high school, David made a few attempts at higher education as well as a regular job, but he had found himself drawn to the world of music and stage life since he was a teenager. By 1971 at the age of 19, he had formed the friendships that would ultimately lead the band Talking Heads to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame just three decades later in 2002. After the band broke up in 1991, David went on to record achievements in film, music and literature in his solo career in addition to several notable collaborations with other artists. He is clearly a man who has found exactly what he was born to do, and he continues to give live performances and be a major influence across multiple musical genres.
Continuing that theme, the musicians return for an encore of the Talking Heads’ 1985 hit Road to Nowhere” — a fittingly paradoxical close to a stunning show from an artist whose much-vaunted quirkiness masks his intensely focused and disciplined creativity. While Byrne’s more recent solo recordings may not always approach the brilliance of his earlier work — really, not many creators’ work does — particularly in concert, he remains a vital, compelling and deeply relevant artist who, at 67, continues to challenge his audience and himself.
Economics plays some part of it. As years go by, it becomes more apparent that the person who’s doing the majority of the songwriting gets the lion’s share of the publishing money, which is about half the income from songs—recordings, not live performance. That can hit a band pretty hard when one or maybe two members are getting much more income than the rest. There are various strategies of trying to address that. In our case, there was maybe no way to fix it permanently.
NEW YORK — David Byrne has brought American Utopia” to Times Square with a sound and a barefoot band bathing an audience in so much collective cool you’ll wish they could sell the surplus at the concession stand.
It was a transitional moment for Byrne too: ignoring the wretched run he’d had in the ‘90s (the nadir culminating in 1994’s self-titled monstrosity, as ugly as its cover), he threw away Talking Heads once and for all. Eyeball was warm, direct, and surprisingly well-crafted. Its follow-up—2004’s Grown Backwards—isn’t half bad either, a considerably more sedate jog through increasingly beefed-up string arrangements: Eyeball is a bit of a chamber music piece, while Backwards is ambitious enough to find Byrne tackling not one but two operatic staples, one a duet with Rufus Wainwright no less.
The same year that Byrne founded the Talking Heads, he showed up at what is now the August Wilson Theater for a work by experimental playwright Robert Wilson titled A Letter to Queen Victoria. Being a Robert Wilson piece—using language less like dialogue and more like concrete poetry—it wasn’t your typical Broadway production. The shows sometimes began with patrons walking through basement rooms where actors were, say, hanging from a swing. I saw that and my mind was blown,” says Byrne, still amazed. I had just moved to New York, and I’d never seen anything like it.” In the ’90s, Byrne visited a handful of old theaters as they were being renovated, and his sense of the history and importance of those places in the American cultural conversation more fully took root. In a certain way, it’s people coming for entertainment, but in other ways it’s America speaking to itself,” he says.
But the calls for activism ramp up late in the show, particularly with the percussion-and-vocal cover of Janelle Monae‘s Hell You Talmbout.” Byrne spoke of hearing Monae perform the song at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and asking her if she would mind if a white man of a certain age” covered it. He said she was delighted, and the band performs a rousing version of the stark song, which is simply a chant of Say his name” and listing the names of many black people murdered in America, ranging from Emmett Till to Atatiana Jefferson, who was killed by a police officer in Texas just last week. Much of the song’s power comes from the fact that the tragically familiar names just keep coming — Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin — in painful, unrelenting succession.
With American Utopia,” which finishes up its run of preview performances at the Emerson Colonial Theatre this weekend before kicking off a Broadway run next month, Byrne pairs his flair for rock pageantry with the sort of inclusive spirit that powers mosh pits and singalongs between strangers. Part revue of his earlier work, part performance-art interpretation of his vast back catalog, part feisty rock concert, and all Byrne, American Utopia” is exuberant and generous, reveling in the simple joys of song and movement as it encourages its viewers to give each other a second look.
Speaking of Janelle Monae, Byrne used one of her more emotionally-charged songs, Hell You Talmbout”, throughout his tour in hopes of sharing her message of social alertness. Byrne was asked about whether or not he had any concerns about performing the song aimed at unapologetically addressing police brutality, but for Monae, the subject never seemed to be out of bounds in terms of a white man relaying a message from black voices and communities.
Annie-B Parson has come in to sharpen the choreography and musical staging for Broadway, while Alex Timbers (both were key collaborators on Here Lies Love) gets “production consultant” billing. The show is fundamentally the same as the tour production, but it’s been refined without sacrificing the hypnotic looseness and spontaneity. The dance elements range from elegant tai chi-esque moves to balletic attitudes, from frisky jigs to Bourbon Street-style processionals.
In recent years, Byrne has become fascinated with color guards, those precision-tooled marching band units. (The infatuation was translated into a 2017 documentary. ) The ensemble in American Utopia” is as synced as any military corps.
American Utopia, the 2018 album, was Byrne’s first solo work in more than a decade and his very first to hit Billboard’s top ten. (It will perhaps shock fans that prior to that, he had reached only the number-15 slot in 1983, with the Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues.) American Utopia, the show, grew out of the subsequent success of the concert tour, though that tour was by no means typical. Performances were choreographed by Parson to be less rock show—i.e., drummer behind his drums, guitar player cradling his instrument, singer stoic behind his microphone stand—and more of a multilayered performance piece: a 12-person band, clad in vaguely Maoist costumes, moving through a shape-shifting chain-link curtain. At some point during the tour, people began to pull Byrne aside to point out that his rock show felt like a story. They would say, ‘It’s there—it’s hard to put into words, but we felt it,’ ” he recalls, grinning.
Rob Sinclair’s lighting supply reshapes the mood throughout, and the setting allows for some gorgeous surreal imagery reminiscent of Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, with disembodied hands playing instruments or passing them through the metallic beaded curtain. For the final songs and encore (another Talking Heads gem), that curtain is effectively stripped away, exposing the bare backstage area. Pete Keppler’s sound design is optimally crystalline, essentially so for a lyricist as brilliantly original as Byrne.
DB: I stay in touch with Jerry. The others not so much. Bands who stay together for a certain amount of time, it becomes like a family. You’re with those people all the time. If you’ve ever been on a road trip with your family, the smallest things start to annoy you, and you have to get past that: Stop doing that with your finger! Would you stop that? All those things. Which don’t mean anything.
Filmed in seven North Texas counties in the fall of 1985, David Byrne’s celebration of Texan specialness, True Stories, has been a strangely overlooked film that proved eerily prescient about the region’s development from rural prairie to forward-looking technology hub.
There are stretches of the bass-driven opening track, Ambulance,” that suggest the soundtrack to a podcast about Theranos before shifting into a screechy, cyberpunkish second movement. Guitarist-keyboardist Ian Williams and drummer John Stanier eventually blend those two sonic ideas together as the song builds to its climax. The track’s distinct parts represent a microcosm of the album’s ethos: Every song features a plethora of ideas that, when it works, the band manages to weave together into a unified whole, with no gesture wasted.